There was a bar I used to go to quite a bit. I won't name it here (Though some may be able to identify it based on what I write here), but it was, once upon a time, a great place to shoot pool and drink from a fairly wide assortment of beers. The crowd was young and energetic, and at the time, I was too. It was the kind of place you could go to even if you didn't leave the house with someone to hang out with--- You were bound to meet up with someone there.
My friend John was one of the bartenders there. One of the regulars was a young black man named Wendell. I never really knew his educational background--- We got along great, but when we hung out together, it was always about the here and now, and never about whatever backstory might have led us to that bar at that moment. But I chose then, as I choose now, to surround myself with bright people. Wendell was a hardworking fellow with a baby on the way, as smart and resourceful as anyone I've ever known.
To pick up extra money when times were lean, Wendell struck up a deal with the bartenders there. They were overworked, and had a tough time cooking the food items customers would order. In return for a share of tips, Wendell would go into the kitchen and cook for them.
He was actually a hell of a cook--- The times he was there were the only times I would dare eat the food there. And any time I did, I had one hell of a meal. I would actually interrupt my pool game when my food arrived--- A meal cooked by Wendell was one that deserved to be eaten with no distractions. I used to encourage him to go to the Culinary Institute so he could get the pedigree to match his talent.
The staff at the bar all loved him. After a few weeks of this arrangment, the head bartender, during a staff meeting, brought up the idea of hiring Wendell on full time.
The owner thought about it for a minute. "No. Not a chance. I hire him, and this bar will be taken over by ni**ers."
It took me a couple of days to find out why half the staff wasn't there the next time I went back--- The ones that stayed on seemed relatively ashamed of the fact that they did, and would tell those that they trusted, in hushed tones, that they were looking for jobs. And once I found out, I never went back.
As much as I would like to say that I'm an older man, and that this happened some time during the seventies, it's just not the case. I'm 34 now, and this happened in 1999 in Memphis, TN, the very city where Dr. King's blood was spilled.
So when I see someone like Glen Dean calling the 1964 Civil Rights Act a "disgraceful infringement on private property rights", I always feel the need to remind people that we are in one of the states that made this necessary. In my own area, entire towns have sprung up that owe their growth, if not their existence, to white flight.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the first attempt this nation really made at living up to the words of the Founding Fathers, that all men are created equal. The problem is that there were many who had something to lose from African-Americans being treated as equal. In fact, those very attempts at levelling the playing field are spun by opponents of the Civil Rights Act as "preferential treatment".
I suppose when one race is allowed to dominate the other for nearly 200 years, an attempt at creating a new paradigm of equality does indeed look like preferential treatment. An attempt to say that 12% of the population should have 12% of the jobs when they had maybe 6% feels downright oppressive to the portion of the population that would just as soon keep them at 6%.
That doesn't mean that those who would attempt to hinder that progress deserve to win out, though. And that's ultimately what happens if Title VII went away. Guys like that bar owner become the rule, and not the exception.
And that's something that this white boy would fight to his dying breath.
With every generation, we step further away from the quiet tyranny of unspoken hatred that manifests itself in the economic oppression of people that deserve equal standing with any one of us. All of us are imperfect, but with each generation, we step further away from the ways of our fathers and grandfathers. Blacks and whites, with every generation, view each other less adversarially than the generation before them.
But make no mistake--- We're still generations away from being treated as equals in any way other than the letter of law. And until those old generations die away, we simply cannot take a chance on returning to the darkest days of the American existence.
Update: Glen Dean has posted a response to me here. I'll be answering him shortly.